Reported by Emelie Peacock
Langara students are being asked for their opinions on consent and sexual violence, as the college moves ahead with drafting a sexual assault policy, now required by provincial law.
After several recent sexual assault scandals at Canadian universities, the provincial government passed Bill 23 requiring all B.C. post-secondary institutions to create sexual misconduct policies by 2017. Last week, a Langara group of administrators, faculty, staff and one student published a draft of a Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy.
The five-page document outlines reporting and investigative processes, confidentiality requirements and statistical reporting. The policy also includes information about support services for people experiencing sexual violence or misconduct.
Lealle Ruhl, coordinator of the peace and conflict studies program, said that while sexual assaults have occurred at Langara, sexual harassment is much more common.
“The sexual violence that’s less extreme but equally debilitating, that’s a problem. It’s an educational barrier and it shouldn’t be there for anybody,” Ruhl said.
Ruhl noted the current reporting system is in need of a centralized base that would make it clear to students as to where and how they can report sexual misconduct. The new policy brings the process together into one document that would be available readily to all students and faculty.
With a clear policy, it will be more accessible for students to report any misconduct
As a result of the accessibility and comprehensive nature of the new policy, administrators expect to see more students coming forward with their experiences of sexual violence.
“We know there’s underreporting going on,” said Maggie Ross, manager of student conduct and judicial affairs. “After we start rolling out the policy and doing our educational campaign, we will be able to assess.”
The group hopes the public consultation will capture the views of communities they haven’t heard from.
“We’re probably missing a few things, it’s inevitable. We’re only so many people with so many minds,” said Janine Sicotte, the student representative on the group. The group will use feedback they receive from students during the campus-wide consultation process to shape the final draft of the policy.
Students can learn more about the draft here.
Read editor Jenna Tytgat’s related opinion piece here.